The idea behind the device is simple. Kingii—named for the frilled-neck lizard Chlamydosaurus kingii, which puffs a fringe of skin below its head when facing a predator—is basically a bracelet with a capsule and an oversized CO2 canister attached to it. The capsule holds a folded square life preserver that’s about the size of a basketball when inflated and scrunches down to the size of small energy bar.
If you’re in trouble in the water, pull a lever on the back of the cylindrical housing to crack the seal on the CO2 canister and inflate the Kingii balloon. According to the company, the bright-orange balloon will stay inflated for up to 48 hours. Restuffing the preserver looks pretty straightforward if you have some patience and origami skills. The unit also has a built-in whistle and a compass.
You have to use Kingii’s oversized CO2 canister, which gives the balloon enough buoyancy to lift a 275-pound person above the waterline. That’s great, but probably overkill for kids and plenty of smaller adults. It also means you’re stuck using the company’s proprietary cartridge, making it more difficult to replace.
One feature we’d like to see? An auto-inflate function in case the wearer loses consciousness.
Still, we understand why the Indiegogo campaign has done so well, because for $69, this tech could buy you enough time for help to arrive.
Kingii says it’ll begin production in August, and early funders will get their wristbands in September.